I started teaching myself Russian almost a year ago, with various amounts of dedication along the way. Most days I’ve been able to put in 30 minutes of learning (counting listening to Pimsleur in the car) but it’s been slow going. So far this has been my general strategy for learning Russian:
- Pimsleur in the car to work and back (15 minutes each way).
- Additionally, one Pimsleur lesson in the evening, since for obvious reasons I can’t give 100% dedicated focus to the lesson while listening in the car. The lesson in the evening will most likely be a review of the lesson I heard earlier in the car. Often I’ll repeat a lesson between three and five times before I advance to the next. I like Pimsleur, and I think it’s worth the time (and the money), but it is slow. Whether or not I could learn the material faster using another course or tool, I don’t know.
- Reading and re-reading chapters from New Penguin Russian Course (NPRC).
- A custom Anki deck of vocab that I’ve collected from various sources:
- The Fluent Forever wordlist in English which I translate to Russian, 10 words at a time or so.
- Chapter vocabulary from NPRC.
- A custom Anki deck of grammar rules and example sentences pulled from NRPC (this is a recent addition to my repertoire, as I’ve started giving more time to the NRPC in general).
Over the past almost year I’ve tried a few other tools as well, with varying success:
- DuoLingo. I used this right at the very beginning and I don’t remember how far into its courses I got before I stopped using it. I didn’t find its lessons very relevant to what I wanted to learn (too many odd sentences about birds if I recall). I liked that I could enter my own words into Anki, based on frequency lists, and this appealed to me more than DuoLingo.
- Memrise. I like this app (I even paid for the upgrade) but I grew tired of having to type my answers. I care more about understanding words and speaking them than I do about knowing how to spell them properly. Maybe this is short-sighted, but I feel like learning how to correctly spell each word that I learn isn’t a good use of my time right now.
- HelloTalk. I really like this app and use it occasionally. As my skills increase I intend to be more active on it.
- iTalki lessons. I did one free lesson to evaluate a teacher but that’s all. A few times I’ve considered buying a package of lessons after I finish Pimsleur unit 2.
- iTalki language exchange partner. I connected with a person in Ukraine who was learning to speak English. His English was quite good, and my Russian extremely poor, so our conversations were very lopsided (about 95% English). This wasn’t very useful for me, and in general I think I just plain know too little Russian to be able to get much use out of conversations.
- Glossika. I bought Glossika after I finished Pimsleur unit 1, before I realized that there was a Pimsleur unit 2 or 3 (how I completely missed this on Amazon I don’t know). Once I complete Pimsleur unit 2, which shouldn’t be long from now, I may dive in to Glossika. Glossika comes very highly recommended by a friend who is learning Spanish, which is why I bought it in the first place.